For music lovers across Switzerland, especially for the Indians and the Srilankan Tamils, if there was one place to be this October, it was at the Hallenstadion Zurich. None other than the glorious A R Rahman was there to bewitch his fans on two consecutive evenings. Team Namaste Switzerland brings you special moments.
All across social media – Whatsapp messages, statuses, Insta stories, reels – just one name appeared and reappeared over and over again – A R Rahman. To watch and experience the musical maestro, the Mozart of Madras live, was a dream come true! The concert had over an 18,500-strong audience and made headlines in the Swiss news media SRF.
The preparations for this show had begun several months in advance on the Thaalam radio channel with promos mentioning a ‘musical storm’ coming soon to Switzerland. There were many uninformed notions that an AR Rahman concert could be in the making; yet when the news of his concert was confirmed in July, it was met with way more frenzied excitement and anticipation than expected.
We were fortunate to experience both nights (October 7 and 8, 2023) of the concert. The experience was surreal. As the first notes resonated through the air, there was an immediate nostalgic connection to the music. Rahman’s mastery of melody and rhythm is nothing short of magic. The stage was lit in vibrant hues, and the atmosphere became electric as the maestro himself appeared, his presence commanding the entire arena. The background visuals for each song was very unique and so much in synch with the music and the lyrics.
Rahman effortlessly transitioned from soul-stirring ballads to high-energy tracks, showcasing his versatility as a singer and composer. The crowd swayed and danced, completely enthralled by his music. His team included renowned singers like Andrea, Haricharan, Shweta Mohan, Vijay Yesudas, Shuba, Blaaze, Shakthisree Gopalan, A R Ameen and many more who were able to add depth and variety to the performances.
The concert was also attended by the member of the Swiss Parliament of the Federal Assembly – Nik Gugger, the Indian ambassador – Mr Mridul Kumar, and other Indian Mission diplomats and local officials who also facilitated AR Rahman.
Bringing the concert to life – behind the scenes
The grand spectacle involved a setup of 322 rigging points and a roof load of 63 tons. The audio experience was powered by 78 cabinet speakers, while a complex network of 550 meters of trussing and 690 meters of LED screen was set up on the stage. The structural foundation comprised 18 tons of steel support, providing stability for the event that accommodated a massive crowd of 18,850 people. Spanning across 4,800 square feet, the stage provided a spectacular platform for an unforgettable musical experience.
The event began with a bang! Starting with his signature Oscar hit from Slumdog Millionaire Jai Ho, moving into a song that carries his signature saying – “Ellam pughazum iraivanukke” from Azhagiya Tamil Magan. He then continued with some powerful songs followed by melodies from Ponniyin Selvan, Sivaji, Robot, Duet, Bombay, Kadhal Desam, Kadal, and many more. The most unique part of the show was a medley of Tamil songs based on Indian Ragas. ARR took the audience on a musical journey with songs from the 1990s, and 2000s and his newer songs in sequential order.
Andrea Jeremiah stole the show with her mind-blowing performance. Mano wowed the audience with 1990’s classics, like “Oruvan oruvan modalali” and “Thillana thillana”.
Moving from soulful melodies to electrifying numbers artists like Blaze and Subha had the crowd completely energized! The younger generation especially was spellbound dancing, foot tapping and rapping along to all-time hits like Baba, Chikubuku Raile, Petta Rap, New, Mahudi and many more!
Day two was a tribute to the Hindi-speaking fans. Regaling his audience with the soulful tunes of Bollywood, A.R. Rahman took his fans on an unforgettable musical journey. Once again, he kicked off the concert with a thunderous rendition of “Jai Ho,” his iconic worldwide hit. The atmosphere was electric, with fans passionately singing along, their faces illuminated by the glow of cell phone screens capturing the magic in real time.
For 2.5 hours, Rahman mesmerized the crowd with meticulously chosen tracks, a musical odyssey that showcased his brilliance as the king of Bollywood soundtracks. Throughout the performance, he delved into his extensive repertoire, weaving together Tamil and Hindi hits from cinematic masterpieces like Roja, Bombay, Fanaa, Taal, Saathiya, Tamasha, and many more.
The concert was more than just a performance; it was a celebration of Rahman’s genius, a testament to his ability to create melodies that resonate deep within the hearts of his listeners. The audience swayed and danced; their spirits lifted by the upbeat electronica numbers like “Humma Humma.” Rahman’s music became a binding force, uniting thousands of voices in harmonious melodies, making the night not just a concert but a collective symphony of love for Hindi music.
As the final notes resonated through the venue, we were left with the collective feeling that Rahman didn’t just perform; he created memories, leaving his fans with an indelible mark of musical brilliance, ensuring that his legacy as the Mozart of Madras and the Bollywood maestro continued to thrive in the hearts of his admirers.
The Rahman concert was nothing short of a spiritual odyssey, a celebration of the universal language that binds us all – the language of music.
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